This is a Good Book Thursday, September 21, 2023

I am reading Patricia Highsmith’s Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction (still not sure how I feel about it, will report back later) and Joshua Jay’s How Magicians Think<, which I'm enjoying a lot, pen in hand so I remember what I want to use for Ethan's PoV in Haunting Alice. But that’s for when I’m in bed at night (I’ve banished electronics from my bedroom) so I still have two manuscripts that I promised to read for people and they’re next up. It’s been nuts here, people, and I was nuts before that so . . .

Tell me what you read this week that was great. I might even get a chance to read for pleasure in October; give me some ideas.

147 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, September 21, 2023

  1. Joshua Jay’s How Magicians Think sounds fascinating!!
    The topic of misdirection and deception reminds me of Faking It and how conmen approach their marks…

    And sorry, no recommendation for your October reading as the books I enjoyed this week will very probably not be considered “great”. But I had a great time reading, so I hope this counts.

    Also, I’m still addicted to hockey and the MM hockey trilogy by Ashlyn Kane and Morgan James delivered. What I particularly liked was the depiction of how all-consuming the sports is, which seems a proper description of the real thing. Also the cameraderie and the importance of peopling skills when it comes to the locker room/team building.

    I started with the third book Unrivaled and loved it (Heated Rivalry vibes at first, but it’s own book pretty soon).
    I liked Scoring Position a lot (one of the MCs is German and though not perfect, the authors managed to NOT make a caricature of the language, so I was pleased).

    Now I’m reading Winging It, which has a darker vibe because one MC has been in the closet for years /during his pro life and from what I now so far will be outed instead of deciding himself to do it.

    Apart from that I’m still reading All hail the underdogs: it’s a very pretty paperbook which I don’t carry around all the time (unlike my mobile phone with Kindle) and therefore I’m much slower here.

    Also, Lisa Henry has a new title out with college guys – no hockey! it starts with drunken college students at a wedding party. Not my favourite starting point so far.

    And Rachel Reid’s new title will be out on Saturday. Very much looking forward to it.
    Plus: it seems my family is not annoyed (more like amused) with love for hockey, in fact dd has snatched my copy of Heated Rivalry, DH is ever indulgent as he can share his interest and DS might have found one video game I’d like to try (NHL).

  2. I recovered from Tyack & Frayne by rereading Sarina Bowen’s Extra Credit & Alexis Hall’s Looking for Group. This last is hard-going if (like me) you’ve never played computer games, but if you power through there’s a sweet m/m romance.

    And now I’m enjoying One in Vermillion, plus my fiction notes, and looking forward to K. J. Charles’ latest, A Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel – though I’ll probably reread the prequel first.

      1. I’m thoroughly enjoying a leisurely read of Vermillion. Just immersing myself in the language. I love Jenny and Bob’s writing style. Such a great team.

      2. I’ve been painting four rooms in my house by myself, and I enjoyed how quickly Liz and Vince painted over that bedroom a couple of times. No way the white covered the blue in one coat. And that mattress that touched the walls on both sides? That would have been a hassle.

        1. Yes, I wondered about that, too. The paint wasn’t even dry when they kept painting over it. But, you know, fiction.

        2. They were working on the new bedroom, which didn’t have a bed in it yet and had a lot more space around where the bed would be

        3. They weren’t painting the room with the mattress, they were painting the new addition. And white actually does cover pale blue pretty well. It would need a second coat but it would be clear somebody painted white over it.
          Says the woman who painted an entire cottage white and blue.

      3. Buying a house in the US is nothing like what you had to go through. The only flaw in the speed of Liz buying a house was that once a bank loan was involved, she would have been required to have title insurance, which was not explicitly spelled out. But I assume the month, while she was renting from Ken for $4, that it was going to take for the loan to go through was taken up with loan requirements like title insurance, securing home owner insurance and deed transfers (the bank hold onto the deed until the loan is paid off).

      4. Well, she rented it first. It takes about a month here if it’s sold as is. Your experience in the UK was insane to me.

  3. I am most of the way through the first Space Janitors book and it is fun. And I have cracked open One In Vermilion, but haven’t gotten very far yet. After that will probably be the new KJ Charles.

    And I listened to your podcast yesterday morning. It was a lot of fun.

  4. If you like YA “A Thousand Steps Into Night” by Traci Chee is an enjoyable Japanese inspired fantasy with a very likable protagonist in Miuko, who has to step outside her village and grow into a set of complicated choices.

    Also read Alexis Hall’s “Murder Most Actual”: for the most part this diversion into cosy manor house murder mystery works well. Hanna & Lisa are charming protagonists even if their marriage in trouble plot doesn’t feel entirely resolved by the end. Lisa is a true crime podcaster, and thus even as the mystery is solved, she refreshingly points out that crime really isn’t as simple as it appears in the public consciousness – that often murder is opportunistic and petty, evidence is always arguable, and we can never determine guilt with 100% certainty. I really liked that perspective.

    Plus MCU and HP fanfic 🙂

    1. Yuri, I couldn’t find a book called Murder Most Actual, by Alexis Hall or anyone else (it sounded interesting, so I went to check it out on Amazon). Is that the right title?

      1. I borrowed Murder Most Actual via Libby a few months ago (and it was a dnf because it was not a book for me) so its a real book. Seems to still be on Kobo.
        Maybe he’s in the process of removed self pubbed versions because it got picked up by a traditional publisher? (That’s happened to a few authors recently, so its now my default assumption when I can’t find a book.)

      2. I also found it via Overdrive (Libby) but looking on his website it’s described as a “Kobo Original”, which I’m guessing means an exclusive?

  5. I read Barbara O’Neal’s The Starfish Sisters. It was so good. Her characterization is so deep and so layered that I spend the whole story being both surprised and satisfied by it.

  6. I’ve been rereading Rachel Bach’s space opera trilogy, I’d forgotten how good it is! Bach is a pseudonym for Rachel Aaron of Eli Monpress/DMZ dragon book fame.

    We’ve also had a new Coop member decide that he’s been here long enough to tell the Board of Directors that they’re not doing their jobs properly (he discovered that they failed to renew our buildings insurance, if you can believe). He’s dead right, and I’m loving the fireworks! Usually I’m the one fighting these fights, I appreciate being able to play a supportive role instead. So an absolute flurry of emails is being exchanged. Love this guy!

    Vermilion is up as soon as it arrives <3

    1. The Paradox trilogy? Yes those were very good. Hadn’t realized it was pseudonym – I will have to look up Rachel Aaron’s work.

    2. There is usually more drama in a Co-op board meeting than in three years of a day time soap opera. Only exceeded by the drama in a cottage association meeting. Enjoy.

  7. I’m reading the third book in a series featuring Liz Danger and Vince Cooper. I just started it, and I’m enjoying the heck out of it.

  8. I am not entirely sure why but I have embarked on a reread of Mary Wesley’s oeuvre. I have been rereading them more or less in order from the Camomille lawn (her second book) because in one of the intros given in some of them, someone suggests it’s a good way to do it.

    I remember enjoying those books in an uncomplicated way back in the 90s when I first read them but this time round I am reading them very differently. I can’t help feeling that she is mining her life for them in quite a painful way.
    I see Calypso and Hector who pop up in most of them and also Rose and Ned as an exercise in « what if I had stayed with my husband and let myself love him».
    If there is a happy ending, it only arrives almost too late.

    The most problematic so far is Second Fiddle whose heroine has been dealt a horrible hand in life and doesn’t really get any resolution. Very strange book that one.

    And still, I keep reading because these books are well written, full of wry observations about life and her heroines and heros are interesting if not always entirely likable people.

    What do you guys think about her?

    1. I used to love her! I may have to reread some. Harnessing Peacocks, and Not that Sort of Girl, were always my favorites.

    2. I read a couple when they came out, but they weren’t keepers for me. I think – as you suggest – her world was too downbeat.

  9. Not much pleasure reading this week, but I’ve started the new J.D. Robb and stayed up way too late last night getting halfway through it.

    The local (Bethlehem, PA) main library hosts a book sale every other month and yesterday was 5-1/2 hours on my feet ringing people up and refilling shelves. Today (and tomorrow if necessary) are restocking days and Saturday we’ll be reopen and at it again. If you’re in the area, stop in and say hi! $1 each for books/CDs/DVDs and a little more, maybe, for newer books and/or some other stuff. I’ll get back to reading on Sunday. 😉

  10. In addition to the third Liz Danger book (excellent conclusion!) someone here recommended a Lily Chu book, and I went back and read one of her earlier ones first. The Stand In was very good and The Comeback was also pretty good.

  11. I’ve had a limp reading week. Still chasing down the elusive replacement for Charlie Adhara so I read Josh Lanyon’s Puzzle for Two. That wasn’t it. Am now trying a Canadian author in the same vein although I’m very sceptical that Canadians can be sexy. Yes, I’m a traitor to my race.

    Also read a hockey author new to me, Brigham Vaughn with Husband Game. It was only okay so I don’t think I’ll pursue further.

    An embarrassment of riches though now with Jenny & Bob’s book, KJ Charles’ latest and Lisa Henry’s latest all coming out yesterday.

    And am still listening to the third in the Janitors of the Apocalypse series. Still amused by the alien race who are obsessed with sex – they invented the contraceptive before the wheel, have a coming-of-age orgy, and attend sex operas where the first four rows are the Designated Splash Zone. Ewww.

    1. Have already downloaded Lisa Henry’s new title (not really started yet) and have heard very good things about the new KJ Charles from a good booklover friend of mine who has no patience with bad or mediocre or not-up-to-standard-of-writer writing. She’s loving it so far (not finished yet), so I’ll very probably order it in pb soon.

      About Brigham Vaughn: I only dipped into Husband Game and couldn’t be bothered (figure skaters are interesting in real life, in fiction I haven’t found a book I liked so far).
      She’s got a new one out about a player and a referee. Will try this one and then make up my mind about if I like the author’s style.

        1. I guess so, Tammy.
          The referee was what made it interesting as plot-concept. Only it would be VERY difficult in real life.

          Am now further into Winging it and love that the MC is the firt to come out as pro player.
          Afaik in real life there’s actually one guy who had the guts to do so but he’s still playing in the AHL not the NHL (iirc).

  12. I finished Jane by April Lindner (not Lindbergh, as autocorrect would have had you believe). It started promisingly, but by the end I was speed reading to get to the end. Everyone bored me, apart from two minor characters who should have had more page time.

    I then read a non-fiction book about policing in the UK. I thought Into The Night by Matt Lloyd-Rose was one of a long line of humorous memoirs about working in the UK emergency services. Yes, there were parts that were funny, but there was a lot of discussion about what role the police should play in society. Thought-provoking.

    Then, my favourite of the week by far. I feel as though The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas may have been recommended by someone here ages ago? If so, thank you. I really enjoyed this story set in an alternate universe where time-travel is made possible in the 1960s by four female scientists, but one is pushed out of the organisation as soon as she goes slightly bonkers in front of a BBC crew present to depict how well the experiment has worked… I don’t pretend that I followed every single one of the alternate timelines as it hops around so many different viewpoints and times, but I loved it. One section made me cry a little as it echoed almost entirely the experience of finding my mother dead at the end of last year, and I ached for the characters involved.

    I’m now reading You And Me, Always by Jill Mansell but only forty pages in so I have yet to form a view.

    1. Saw the cover for “The Psychology of Time Travel” and was intrigued – am glad to hear someone read and liked it. Will give it a go.

  13. After last week’s “Love, Theoretically” which I loved, I’ve read “Love on the Brain” and “The Love Hypothesis” by Ali Hazelwood, and enjoyed both of them, particularly the latter.

    In these books, Hazelwood’s focus has been (LT) the love lives of physicists, (LotB) research psychologists, and (LH) Biology researchers. I can’t really judge the projects these three books’ MCs are obsessed with, but kudos to Hazelwood for obviously doing a lot of homework on these science subjects.

    All three books have been well written and well thought out, with different kinds of obstacles delaying the MCs coming together. I liked Hazelwood’s dialogue and found each MC’s back story believable and touching. I was uneasy at the beginning with the third book’s framework, involving an older grad student’s inadvertent romance with someone who turns out to be a young, lonely professor, but it ended well and I could believe that the perceptions of their best friends about them was more accurate than social norms would suggest. I’m going to keep following this author.

    1. The reason the science backgrounds are so accurate is that her day job is as a neuroscience prof. As one of the several people here who recommended Love on the Brain, I’m glad you like them.

  14. I finished the first of the Janitors of the Apocalypse – Terminal Alliance – by Jim Hines. I was a little leery of it being cutesy, but I was intrigued by the premise. It was straight out space opera, which I enjoyed very much. I stayed up too late last night finishing it up, but I’m looking forward to the next ones in the series.

    And now on to Vermillion!

  15. I read One in Vermillion last night and couldn’t put it down. Late night but worth it. Such a fun book- the t-shirts and the Murderbot reference took me right out. Congrats to you and Bob for such a great series. I don’t want to put spoilers here but if I can read it in one night without stopping then that’s a win!

  16. I finished another Jill Shalvis book, The Friendship Pact. This is the third book of hers I’ve read–loved the first one, really liked the second, and this one was…okay. Part of the problem was that the Big Issues the two protagonists (romantic comedy) had in this book were practically the same as the issues from the previous book, which is in the same series. The book was entertaining enough, but I kept feeling like I was reading the same book.

    Looking for some good Magical Realism recommendations, now that I’m finally getting back to working on my own. I’m rereading Sarah Addison Allen, who I love, and I don’t particularly like Alice Hoffman. Anyone got another author to recommend?

    1. Barbara Kingsolver feels like Magical Realism to me, though I don’t know if she is actually considered as such. I especially like Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven.

    2. Deb, I don’t know if you are on fb, but Sarah Addison Allen occasionally posts stories on her fb page. She finds photos and pictures that interest her and makes up stories about them, then invites her readers to continue the stories in the comments if they want to. I am always intrigued by them and frequently wish they would turn into full blown stories.

    3. I’m not great at genres, so I don’t know if these count, but they have absurdism woven into everyday life as if it’s normal:

      —The Lonesome Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya
      —One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (ok I know this one is magical realism, and it’s very very good though I can’t remember anything about it)
      —Anything by Etgar Keret, who truly excels at the short story format
      —Catch-22 (I realize everyone’s probably read this one and 100 years, but just in case you haven’t)
      —The Murmur of Bees by Sofia Segovia
      — Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
      —The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
      —The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips

      1. Everything counts here. We don’t have a genre specific topic. Did it have words and or pictures? Tell us about it.

    4. Maybe “The Remaking of Corbin Wale” by Roan Parrish? It has that almost dreamy feel and a good m/m romance.

    5. Karen Hawkins – Dove Pond series? Book 3, The Secret Recipe of Ella Dove, just came out.

      Heather Webber – Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe; South of the Buttonwood Tree; In the Middle of Hickory Lane; At the Coffee Shop of Curiosities (which just came out too)

  17. Much as I am absolutely loving Fellowship Point by Alice Elliott Dark, when One in Vermilion popped up on my Kindle, I switched and am now in state of nail-biting tension because do not want to deal with variety of sh*t-storms at work but to curl up in my hammock and home and read all about Vince and Liz. I will be so sad to say goodbye.

    I had not heard of Alice Elliott Dark or Fellowship Point, but a writer I love, Adele Geras, recommended it and 30% through, am absolutely loving it.

    On a darker note, am re-reading for podcast purposes a book I read 20 years ago, Facing the Extreme, about Holocaust and gulag-related issues, and it is as humane and relevant as it was before. Not an easy book, but very restorative.

  18. Finished One in Vermilion last night. Very satisfying ending. Several laugh out loud moments, the T-shirts, the factory building and stop talking now, people are reading the book. Back to Eyes of the Hammer. Thanks Bob and Jenny.

  19. This week I read Beware of Chicken, by Casualfarmer—a funny, cozy slice of life martial arts fantasy about farming. A 21st-century Canadian finds himself reincarnated in the body of a young cultivator from the Cloudy Sword sect. Instead of continuing the dead man’s quest for strength and power, he decides to quit the sect asap and head for the hills. He buys a farm in a remote corner of the Azure Hills, the weakest, most obscure province on the continent, and settles down to enjoy the quiet life. But since Jin has the strength of ten men, he’s feeding Spirit Herbs to his rooster and Qi to the land, things swiftly take a turn for the unexpected.

    Beware of Chicken was recommended recently on an Ilona Andrews Good Book thread and even though I don’t know much about isekai or xianxia it sounded so fun I couldn’t resist. I loved the gentle pacing, twisted tropes, community, humor, kindness, and intelligent romance. I immediately read the second book and have pre-ordered the third.

    1. Yes. I also picked it up from the Andrews blog recommendation and read the first two in the series with enjoyment. Really off the wall, as you might suspect from the title.

  20. I’ve been listening to Lessons in Chemistry for my book club. It’s very good, and often funny, but also painful. I’m listening to Translation State by Ann Leckie, which is fascinating, but also sometimes gross, because one of the sentient species eats people. I’m having a sad week, so I’ve switched to The Talisman Ring, an old friend, with no mass eradication of humans as lunch meat and not even a hint of equal rights. This is the first Heyer book I read, at age 12, and I know I can count on it.

    I’ve got Vermillion just downloaded to my library, and I am looking forward to reading it!

    1. I forgot that I read the recent Ben Aaronovitch, Winter’s Gifts. I enjoyed FBI Special Agent Kimberly Reynolds’ voice, she’s someone we’ve met in several Peter Grant novels, and I like seeing events from her point of view. Set in deep winter in northern Wisconsin, instead of in crowded London, he was consistent with his earlier world building.

    2. The Talisman Ring is one of my all-time favorites. I love the proposal at the end, two people who really understand each other.

      1. The Talisman Ring is such a humorous one. I like the two sets of main characters too, the young lovers who are demonstrative and dramatic and the mature pair— ‘oh yes, I have been intending to marry you these last several weeks’.

          1. I love the way that book destroys the stern older man and the ingenue. And the way Tristan realizes that marrying Eugenie (?) meant he’d be listening to her babble at breakfast for the rest of his life, and then listens to Sarah babble as she’s pretending to be an idiot to fool the bad guy and thinks she’s funny . . . it’s just a brilliant romance.

  21. The Liz trilogy was wonderful and One in Vermillion funny and heartfelt and lived up to and even surpassed the first two — the series was such a joy to read. I loved Liz and Vance and miss them already. Thanks so much Bob and Jenny!
    To help ease the “trauma” of finishing that series, I went back to reread Fast Women which -as always- was the perfect comfort read. And now, cause comfort reads are what I need this week, I am rereading for the umpteenth time, Josh Lanyon’s Adrien English series. So much emotion is packed into those books.

  22. While waiting for One in vermillion to arrive, I read In Calabria, by Peter Beagle. It’s a sweet story with some scary moments, and a satisfying resolution.

    I read Vermillion in one day, and just gobbled it up. It, too, had scary moments, and I absolutely hated Vince’s encounter with “the law”. But it certainly rang true, when compared with some accounts in the news. I love the tiny house! Jenny must have been researching them. I also loved that Vince spent much of the book carting around the big red bear in the back of his Gladiator. The ending was satisfying, and left room for more, since some of the worst perpetrators still live. Argh! The T shirts kept it interesting.

    1. I actually found the plans for that house.
      And then they disappeared into the jungle that is my laptop. But it’s a real house with plans on the internet.

      1. Jenny, if you happen to accidentally come across the plans again in the jungle of your laptop, I’d looooove to get the link.
        No hurry, no expectations, just curiosity.

        1. If we do another Liz/Vince trilogy, I’ll have to find them. I have the link somewhere.
          I think I’ve misplaced half my life in this move.

  23. Loved One in Vermilion! Tickled me the way the whole town turns out when they hear that Liz is in trouble. And go, George! I don’t know why the lone hand, but he showed himself to be a smart leader. I was proud of him.

    Going to start the latest in the Thursday Murder Club series next , “The Last Devil to Die.”

    1. I am confused by the “lone hand” remark. Even if it is autocorrect, I don’t get it. George did come through spectacularly.

    2. You mean, that he didn’t tell Vince and the others?
      I figured that was just a zillion years as police chief. Ask Bob. Bob?

      1. Yeah. He did really come through and it did tickle me that he had it up his sleeve, that George was savvy enough to work his “network,” so to speak. I liked that he got to shine. He’s going to be a great mayor. And I thought it a nice touch to show that the sheriff’s office, in spite of the bone headed move by those couple of officers, were also the good guys.

        It was certainly a cool reveal and I’m not criticizing that. It was like one of Vince’s westerners, with the cavalry showing up at the last moment. I just wondered why nobody else knew about it, that’s all.

  24. I’m in writing mode, which means I can’t read fiction in print.

    But for whatever reason, my brain does let me hear fiction stories, so I squeezed in an audiobook listen of The Blonde Identity by Ally Carter. It’s a rom-com spy book that kicks off in Paris and romps around Europe. The main character wakes up with amnesia and things take off from there.

    Naturally, the story stretches reality but in the most fun way. It has some action sequences, but really the focus is on the relationship. Well paced and easy listen with some banter and humour alongside the action as well as some fun play off tropes from the writing perspective. Also, lots of pieces that felt like call-backs to some classic movies to me. Overall, the feel worked for me and anyone who likes spy rom-coms may like it, too.

      1. It is fun. I’d never read anything by Ally Carter before so this was a nice surprise plus it had good heart. And it ends in a way that’s complete but could also lead to a related sequel.

  25. I started listening to John Scalzi’s Starter Villian narrated by Wil Weaton (who does a really good job) that just came out. It’s 8 hours long. After the first two hours I stopped listening and bought the kindle version and then read it in one sitting. I had to know how it ends and didn’t have the patience for the audio. And now I’ll finish listening to it. It’s not sci-fi. What it is, is a lot of fun!! I love the dolphins.

    1. I’m waiting for Starter Villain to come available, and I love Wil Wheaton’s narrations. I’ve listened to a couple of them. It’s nice that it’s only 8 hours. That goes by like whoosh.

  26. I had a big reading night last night b/c I was too itchy to sleep—thanks, wild histamine levels. Anyway, I read The Road to Roswell last night—very enjoyable. Then a very meh sci-fi romance—the best I can say for it is I DID finish it. Then a big chunk of Vermilion—loving it! I read through some of the house renovation stuff, which is completely my jam, then put it away and caught a couple hours sleep on a happy note…

  27. Read – well listened to – A Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel by K.J. Charles. It’s the second book in this series. While I didn’t love it as much the first book, it’s still wonderful. Excellent plot, dialogue and characters.

  28. Before pausing to start Vermilion on Tuesday because I couldn’t wait, I was enjoying the beginning of Jill Mansell’s Promise Me. It is hitting that Trisha Ashley comfy spot rather well and I will go back to it.

    I’m also listening to the fourth Thursday Murder Club, The Last Devil to Die, and my goodness, Richard Osman can Write. The character building is phenomenal. I was so deeply engrossed in a quiet yet heartfelt moment between two favorite characters on my drive home yesterday that I nearly pulled over so I could finish listening without distractions. I care about these characters. Well done, Richard.

  29. Early this week I finished Pink, and loved it, and have now read Major Rogers’ Rules of Ranging with great approval. He pays proper attention to his flanks, and I like his insistence that sentries be silent. So much more my style than Sun Tzu, although I find my library has five(!) different editions just in ebook, so maybe I should re-read it in the edition with commentaries. To be fair, I am sure my attitude to Sun Tzu has to do with him writing about full sized armies, whereas my guerrilla mind was permanently influenced by a paper I wrote on John Hunt Morgan.

    I am second on the hold list for Vermillion, so I will be getting it soon.

    In the meantime I have re-read Leckie’s Translation State, loving it even more the second time. It has not displaced Provenance as my all-time favorite, but it’s up there. I’ve started Abby Jimenez’ Yours Truly, which has been on my hold list since it was first mentioned here, and I’m liking it a lot. I also finished T. Kingfisher’s Thornhedge, and enjoyed it enough that I will read it again as soon as the hold for it less than ten weeks.

  30. I have mostly been rereading Heated Rivalry in anticipation of my copy of the sequel’s arrival. I’d love to read the rest of the Game Changers series, but nobody at the library could give me any instructions about how to download them to my laptop. I enjoyed the 2 they have in paperback, but I’d like to fill in some gaps.

    1. Aunt snack, my kind no. 2 is currently reading Heated Rivalry and seems to be loving it as much as I did. So much that we ordered book 2 in paperback since she prefers to read real books and it’s difficult for me to borrow her my my ebook (I’m digitally challenged that way).

      BTW she’s far too young to read such books, but after accidentally listening into the BJ scene in KJ Charles’s The Thief in the Night she knew what smut I listen to/read (blush).

      When I looked up the other books in the series, NONE was available as paperback. Grrr.
      Even the second hand book places were sold out. Grrr.
      Grrr as even dh was curious after reading the first chapters of the Goalie book….

      But hooray, at least I have somone in the family who gets my hockey bug although I never thought she would.

      1. My copy of the sequel is due to be delivered tomorrow, but due to Yom Kippur, I may not pick it up for a few days. I’ll let you know if it lives up to the first book.

        As for your daughter reading books she isn’t old enough for, I didn’t understand at the time that my Mom wasn’t steering me away from certain titles because she was worried that I couldn’t handle the adult themes, but because she worried that I wasn’t mature enough to enjoy them. But I survived and kept reading. However, there was MUCH less sex in those books 50 years ago.

  31. I’m not really an epic fantasy reader, but I was desperate for something new to listen to, and the kindle I share with a friend had the audio of The Way of Kings (Brandon Sanderson) on it, so I gave it a try. I had to force myself to keep reading/listening at first, but it did hook me eventually, and now I’m even starting the second book. I still think it could have been cut in half and been better for the cuts, but it’s not like I NEEDED to finish it by a certain day/time, so I could just enjoy it at leisure.

    Somewhat off-topic, but a little book-related: how did I not know that Martha Wells has been dealing with breast cancer all summer/fall? I went through a period this summer where it felt like everyone I “know” online was getting a cancer diagnosis (Ursula Vernon, plus “myfosterkittens” on Instagram, plus a fellow author at my publisher), but I missed Martha Wells’ announcement. Fortunately, they’re all doing well, for a given definition of “well” (two have had to repeat the surgery to get all the cancer, so temporary setbacks, but are otherwise making progress).

    Anyway, I’m adding Martha Wells to my list of folks who need good anti-cancer vibes. Selfishly, I’m a little bummed that apparently there won’t be a new book from her in the short term after the one this November (none in 2024; understandably her health has messed with deadlines), while at the same time I’m glad that she’s doing what’s needed for the long term, so we get many more books from her in following years!

      1. We lost 3 people this summer so cancer can go take a very long walk off a very short pier.

        1. I was reading a newsletter at work sent around by a physician across the hall which says that serious development is going on to create an mRNA vaccine for several different types of cancer, which I felt very hopeful about.

          They also cited another study that is working on a cross-racial genome to be better for targeting illnesses that have differential rates of success in different people. It sounds like it could create a situation where a vaccine or other treatment could potentially one day be created for any individual person.

          My silent reading voice added “a rich one” to that notion, since individualized medicine can’t possibly be cheap or affordable medicine, but the thought is still intriguing.

          Just a thought…

          1. Iirc Biontech was so fast in producing the Covid vaccine because they were and are researching in the field of mRNA cancer vaccines.

            Let’s cross our fingers for progress for all – not only the rich – patients.

          2. I used to think that but if we can get individualized DNA analyses for $20 maybe individualized medicine won’t be that expensive either

          3. Good point on the $20 thing – although the reason DNA tests are so cheap is because they want to include your DNA in their database, so really they should be paying you rather than the other way around.

    1. I listened to the House Witch series by Delemhach. It’s on kindle unlimited. It’s billed as humerous romantic fantasy and totally lives up to the description. The audio was outstanding. The reader really nailed the characters, and the reluctant hero is just so endearing. I’m hooked.

      1. I just got the new one for my birthday. I love everything about this series except their naming.
        I think most of the characters are the worst names I ever heard. But that does not stop me reading it. It’s funny you think it would but it’s an interesting story.

        1. Susan, I would normally never bother with a book like The Goblin Emperor because of the names. If an author hits me with a stack of unpronounceable names on the first page, I take instant offence. But The Goblin Emperor was so good, I had to keep reading. I still don’t like the names, but I’ve got used to them.

  32. A couple of mediocre books didn’t much brighten my week. One of them was Gryphon in Light by Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon. It was a Valdemar novel of no particular quality. Bad editing, dragging middle, lots of magical mumbo-jumbo, plus it ends on a cliffhanger in the middle of a scene. Another was Patricia Rice’s Merely Magic – an historical romance with a whiff of magic, but not even a thread of excitement.
    On the other hand, Changeling – a Liaden novelette by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller – was a quick and emotional read. I enjoyed it.
    And Linzi Day’s Midlife in Gretna Green was a pleasant surprise. I never read this author before, never even heard of her before, but I LOVED this book. It’s a contemporary women’s fiction with humor and magic, and its protagonist was a 42-year-old woman Niki. As opposed to most paranormal books these days, this was not a romance. Not even a hint of one. The lack of a romantic entanglement felt fresh to me. I liked it that Niki didn’t need a guy to solve her problems for her, even though she is not a ‘heroic’ character. She is quiet and kind, and she doesn’t fight monsters. Instead, she just does what needs to be done without fanfares or explosions. A charming book.

    1. “She is quiet and kind, and she doesn’t fight monsters. Instead, she just does what needs to be done without fanfares”

      Niki sounds a little like Mrs. Pollifax.

  33. I’m reading the 3rd of the Lymond Chronicles, Disorderly Knights (Dorothy Dunnett). Interesting on Knights of St John in Malta (1551) crazy battles, which apparently happened in real life. Back to Scottish Borders for more fighting and racing around. Enjoying it. Despite all the fighting, female characters are strong and interesting, though sometimes I wish they were around more. Lymond definitely a flawed hero. Good holiday read as it takes a while.

    On audio finished Lily Chu’s The Comeback. Really enjoyed it, Nice characters, good arcs, believable conflict and resolution, career choices and K pop. Great reading too. Phillipa Soo, who was in Hamilton, but I didn’t know that before looking her up.

    Now I’m on to Dick Francis To the Hilt. A while since I read it but I always liked it.

    Vermilion has to wait till I’m home. Looking forward to it.

  34. Thank you to whoever recommended Sarah Caudwell. I have now read two of her four books.
    They may be particularly good fun for lawyers …

  35. I’m deep in Vermillion and loving every moment of it. Zombies! Murderbot! Virginia Woolf! It’s such a delight getting to stay with Vince and Liz for this three-book arc, and seeing their relationship change and grow. Plus all the stuff going on around them is a hoot. Thank you so much for these books, Jenny and Bob.

  36. I read Martha Wells’ Witch King and found it to be too convoluted for my taste.
    Followed it with Abby Jimenez’ Life’s too Short; it’s fluff but good fluff. And finally a reread of Ilona Andrews’ Sapphire Flames. I’m saving Vermillion for the weekend.

    1. I just finished Witch King, and while I agree that it was sometimes hard to follow, since it kept jumping back and forth in time, and I was mostly driving or cleaning, so I wasn’t paying hard attention, I enjoyed it.

      It’s funny how her different works are so completely different. I love Murderbot and reread regularly. The Ile-Rien stories were also really good, and I liked Witch King, but I haven’t been able to get into the Raksura novels. I may give them another try next time I have a long drive.

  37. I read Rebecca Yarros’ “The Fourth Wing” which is set on a fantasy world with dragons, gryphons and demons. It’s about a young woman who had been set up by her father to become a scribe even though the rest of her family were dragon riders because she survived a childhood illness with extended joints and fragile bones. However, after the father dies, the mother forces her to go into Basgiath War College to become a dragon rider. There is a huge death rate at the Academy since there are fewer dragon available than there are potential riders so murder is allowed as long as there is a believable cover story. The young woman, of course, comes to the realization that she loves the challenge and stretching her wings. I thought at first that there was the possibility of a love triangle which I absolutely hate, but, thankfully, one of the suitors showed his true colors and stopped that from happening. I liked this story and am awaiting the sequel “Iron Flame” which comes out in November.

    I also just finished Hannah Kaner’s “Godkiller” which is also another fantasy novel. This world is full of gods, there’s even a god of lost sandals. A while ago, the king of Middren warred with the gods and managed to kill them all in his country. Gods are now banned in Middren, so, godkillers are mercenaries who go around killing problematic gods that keep popping up because people, darn it, need their gods! Anyway, Kissen – a godkiller – comes across Inara who is bonded to a small god of white lies. She can’t kill the god without possibly killing Inara so they go on a journey to find answers. Along the way, they meet Elogast who fought in the God war, but did not approve of the king’s final actions in the war. It was a good story and I really liked Kissen. The gods in this world are really nasty, spiteful things who attack and kill followers of other gods. It’s a god eat god world, so I had to cheer for Kissen.

    I also read Martha Wells updated and revised “City of Bones”. I had read it a long time ago and didn’t remember it, but did remember it wasn’t my favorite. And, now I know why. It’s a story of Khat who is a krisman working in the relic trade on a world which had undergone a cataclysmic event a long time ago. Krisman are people who had had been created by the Ancients to live in the Waste which resulted from the event. The story is like, say, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, where the hero’s life is not significantly changed at the end. It was good, don’t get me wrong. A true roller coaster of a story with scares! and chills! and action! every other page, but, I don’t know. There is another main character, Elen who is a Warder in the city where Khat lives and her life is significantly changed at the end of the book. I wonder now if she was really the main character and and I misread the situation.

    I am now reading “One in Vermillion” and it seems really, really good. I can’t believe I didn’t catch the joke about the company actually being called Red Ink until Liz mentioned it.

  38. Like many of you, I read One in Vermillion this week – loved the length of the books in this series, really gives space to relax into them and get to know the characters and community. Loved the house and its setting. Though shan’t mention the timescale to a friend who has been embroiled in failing to move house for two years (UK).

    Also like others, read and enjoyed the KJ Charles, though not as much as the first – being a sucker for someone with a hobby, like Gareth in the first.

    Re-read Patricia Wentworth’s The Gazebo, which is one of her best I think. Satisfying escape of character from domestic drudgery.

    Glad to see others have found Midlife Crisis in Gretna, which I enjoyed. I came across it via Cosy Fantasy on Reddit, which has lots of lists.

    Downloaded about 8 free books from the massive Stuff your Kindle list from Romance Bookworms (free status ends today, 22/09).

  39. I consumed a ridiculous number of other people’s words this week.

    1. ‘The Dragon Eater’ by J. Scott Coatsworth, 1st full-length vol of an epic SF/F 4-parter (part 1 is a set of prequel stories) because he asked for help promoting vol 2 and I was perfectly willing to do so but wanted to know whereof I spoke. Entertaining & nostalgic for someone who read all the Dragonriders books back in the day. LGBTQ+ main characters in a world where gender fluidity is the norm and patriarchy is not.

    2. ‘Home Ice Disadvantage’ by Hannah Henry, enjoyable M/M hockey romance about guys with mental health issues feat. very little on-page hockey! Perfect for me!

    3. ‘Phasers on Stun!’ by Ryan Britt, entertaining survey of Star Trek from the development of the original series to present day.

    4. re-read my own book ‘Never Enough’ for reasons.

    5. ‘The Belle of Belgrave Square’ by Mimi Matthews, a competent book that didn’t quite satisfy. Heroine’s strength comes late and is not entirely convincing; hero’s deceptions are, IMO, too vast and consequential to be so easily forgiven.

    6-9. shorts: ‘Luck of the Draw’ by Addison Albright, alt-hist M/M about an arranged marriage; interesting scenario, distractingly contemporary language; ‘Love, Isidor’ by Nell Iris, M/M second-chance – liked this one a lot; ‘A Flower of Ink’ by K.L. Noone, M/M feat. an architect and a scientist, liked this one a lot too; ‘Merry Inkmas’ by Talia Hibbert, a short holiday novella featuring somewhat messy F/M workplace romance, liked this.

    10. ‘Inside Darkness’ by Hudson Lin, M/M feat. a journalist and a UN humanitarian relief worker. This book brings the grim. UN guy is traumatized, depressed, and alcoholic. Genuinely involving story and credible relationship development, both men put in the work, hopeful conclusion.

    11. ‘Spring Rain’ by Marc Hamer. Memoir of an English gardener, made me want to get dirty. 🙂

    12. ‘The Gentleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel’ by KJ Charles. Adored it.

    13. ‘One in Vermillion’ by Jennifer Crusie & Bob Mayer, very satisfying wrap-up to the Liz & Vince trilogy. All the chicanery & shenanigans were scenery to my main play, the How We Do This between two essentially solitary people who want to be together; their solution really works for me.

    14. ‘Step Right Up’ by L.A. Witt, one of the Carnival of Mysteries titles; this one (M/M) features two nurses (co-workers), whose lives get complicated by a piece of art from the carnival; it’s really all about them solving problems together, which I always like.

    15. ‘Love on the D-List’ by J.R. Barker, which looks like a rom-com and is indeed quite funny in parts, but also gets into some heavy shit. MC1 is an actor turned teacher (one movie, one award, one career-smashing scandal), MC2 is a gig worker. Mass quantities of deceit, lies, & betrayal, but also true friendships, support, & forgiveness. No skipping over the tough parts. The vindication of MC1 pushed this to a 5 for me and I was disappointed to find it’s the only title from this author (so far).

    16. ‘Seeking Stars’ by Leonor Soliz, F/M Hollywood romance feat. a burned-out movie star and a Latina documentarian. They do a lot of talking, from getting past an awkward first meeting to dealing with online shittery etc.; work out their stuff in a satisfying manner. I would have liked to see just a bit more of how the heroine turns a month of exclusive interview access into a documentary – the best ones all have plenty of context, and her theme was the loneliness of being looked at without being seen, so IMO she would’ve been pulling in other commentary, clips, etc. Story went from committing to be together, before editing even started, to a 3-yrs-later epilogue. You know how I like to see the work on the page. 😉 Still liked the book and may go for the follow-up, which features this heroine’s BFF and this hero’s brother.

    1. I’ve put Luck of the Draw on my list. You might try Hannah Henry’s third in that series – Draft Bust – again, very little actual hockey, a writer, and a hockey player With Issues holed up in a house together. It’s my favourite of hers.

  40. I did also read One in Vermillion and loved it; will there be a spoilers blog for it? And I think we never had one for Rest in Pink either …

    1. There’s one for all three going up tomorrow (Friday) since you suggested it, Debbie. I’ve been so nuts here that I have no idea what I’m doing, but that I did manage to schedule.

  41. The sixth Sonoma Witches book by Gretchen Galway came out on Tuesday as well and I finished that yesterday (I can’t fully explain why I love that series as much as I do, but something just sits right), plus I’ve almost finished the audiobook version of The Forever Witness by Edward Humes. Nonfiction about the use of DNA technology in solving cases, one in particular… because my taste in books tends to two extremes.

    Now I’m almost through Vermillion too (what a fabulous book week) and I think I might need an updated character map…….

  42. I put up my review the day Vermilion came out on Amazon. I tried to do it as a video review. Amazon said people like them. I allowed Amazon to capture my camera, held up my paper back and gushed.
    I don’t know what happened to the review. So I did it again as a PRINT review the way I always do. I can’t wait to put it up on BookBub and good reads. And I I am looking forward to posting a review on TikTok. But I need my son to help me hold the camera and hold up three bucks. I may do them one at a time.
    I love you, Siri so much
    Then someone here suggested the road to Roswell. That was hilarious. Not my normal read, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Now I have gone on to the magnificent lives of Marjorie Post: a novel.
    It’s a little weird, but very interesting. I’m enjoying the facts. I don’t know how long I will read it.
    I’m behind on everything because I did a short film today and it was a Santa Monica then the battery in the car died and we had to wait for it to be fixed. And I’m still on aI’m behind on everything because I did a short film today and it was an Santa Monica then the battery in the car died and we had to wait for it to be fixed. And I’m still on a walker. And yesterday was my birthday. And tomorrow I have two additions to do. So getting up the TikTok I want to do depends on Chris because he is also very busy.

  43. This week I really enjoyed One in Vermillion, great book! Thank you Jenny and Bob, very fun read. (I also enjoyed the podcast)
    Read Road to Roswell, also a good read, entertaining and lively.

    For my book club, I read Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson; very thought provoking science fiction dealing with global warning. I might have abandoned it due to very horrific tragedy at the start of the book , but I am very glad that I continued reading. He deals with all of the ways that people try to avert an oncoming disaster.

  44. Yikes! I have five books open in different readers.

    I’ll start with the serial, Variation on a Theme, Book 4 by Grey Wolf. Chapter 159, the final chapter, comes out around 8:45 AM today (it’s Friday). In the comment section, GW announce that because of work and vacation, he was considering shifting from M/W/F publishing to twice weekly and solicited scheduling schemes. Monday/Thursday seems popular. I said I thought I was in the minority but he should take a few months off so’s not to burn out. (Then Tues/Fri afterwards.)

    One in Vermillion is in progress. I have reached Thursday.

    Deb’s Baba Yaga Collected Novella is in another reader, open to the final novella. It’s not fair that I keep pausing while I read something else, but I’m still enjoying the book, so there’s that.

    Captain Vorpatril’s Plotbunnies
    by Bracketyjack
    Summary: Four scenes in the life of Emperor Gregor Vorbarra, prompted by lines from Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance. (Rated G, properly, but there are one or two comic obscenities when that particular event happens.)

    Loved it! Finally finished it. FanFic at its finest.

    Rewind by Don Pendleton. Like VoaT above, it’s one of those Do-Over stories where someone dies as a geezer and wakes up as a teenager, still knowing everything from the life they lived. In every one I’ve read, the common themes are that they jump-start their sex lives and take advantage of whatever sport scores the recall to amass some wealth.

    The rest of my week was Netflix movies and TV. Hanna was… interesting. I won’t be watching it a second time. Lots of Gilmore Girls and cartoons – Justice League, 3Below, Justice League Unlimited – and Miss Congeniality & Dark Knight Rises. Also, one episode of Queen’s Gambit. I’m going to give that mini-series a pass. Too depressing.

    1. I agree about Queen’s Gambit, Gary. So many people loved it, but I couldn’t finish the first episode.

  45. I read Fashionably dead in diapers this week. It’s a reread. The book has my favourite Devil and a paranormal war. It had a cute baby, delusional elves, American idol & a lead with amnesia. Nothing but good times ahead.

    I read half of Neon Gods. Its a wonderful take on Hades & Persephone. I hope Zeus is thrown in some underworld dungeon.

    I read the Tyrant Alpha’s Rejected mate. It was a little strange. I really liked the FMC. She was strong, caring, decisive & reourceful. The MMC did the bare minimum and he was forgiven after that. I dont understand why the FMC didnt leave.

    I skim read a book that looks great on paper. Shadow gods, fated mates, fae realms, hidden powers, pack politics and revenge.
    It had too much bullying of anyone who was in a weak position and that went on for a long time. I skipped some chapters but the attacks continued along with cryptic blame games. Didnt like the voice of the FMC at all. Very annoying.

    I read Lavenders Blue. Vince bear is my favourite. I loved Peri Blue & the purple scrubbie song. Molly was wonderful.
    Finally saw the podcast. Both Bob & Jenny were great. Vince Bear is incredibly cool.
    Im very excited for the Maybe this time spinoff series. It’s one of my favourite books.

  46. FYI, one of Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak books, Midnight Come Again is free for download this weekend at B&N Nook.

    1. Checked after Jeanine’s news. Midnight Come Again is also free on Kindle. (And many of the older titles are on Kindle Unlimited for borrowing.) I know I’ve read Stanebow, but not recently and not the Shugak titles.

  47. My yearly read in October is Roger Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October, with illustrations by Gahan Wilson. I make it last all month, one chapter a day. It’s told by Snuff the dog, and it chronicles the month of preparations for the battle to either keep the gates closed to the old gods or to open them, and the people working toward one side or the other. One of my favorites, and I look forward to October to read it.

  48. I went looking for more books (thank you everyone – my “interesting” tag is now quite full), and one that piqued my interest was a John Scalzi. I often like his work, though in liking runs hot and cold. Some I’ve really loved, and others I wonder that they were written by the same person.

    This one is really just a short story, but it’s fun. The Shadow War of the Night Dragons, Book One, the Dead City. It was written as a parody. My library says that it was done as an April Fool’s Joke. The title was created from an amalgamation of the most commonly used words in fantasy and sci fi novels over the last decade. It begins by creatively and thoroughly defining just how dark and stormy the night was, and it quite funny. Available in text and audio (21 minutes)

  49. Just finished reading the first five DI Wesley Peterson books by Kate Ellis, now it’s time for Vermillion .

  50. This week, I’ve been reading (other than sticking to fiction, I am all over the place with genres):

    Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid: Loved it, but kind of felt like if you didn’t know tennis very well, it might not be as compelling.

    Payback in Death by J.D. Robb: I honestly don’t know how Nora Roberts keeps coming up with distinctive plots for her “In Death” series but she did it again! I have been reading this series for years, and am super invested in her characters. I’m glad we can keep hanging out with them (and honestly, I am always astonished at the speed with which she writes!).

    The “Anne of Green Gables” series: A childhood favorite I revisit often. I just love Anne!

    “Boundary Magic” series by Melissa F. Olson: Better than average urban fantasy, with an interesting magic world unlike others I’ve read.

    “Into the Fire” by Gregg Andrew Hurwitz: Book 5 of the “Orphan X” series of thrillers. Boy howdy, does this series move along! I don’t know how Orphan X keeps getting out of the situations he lands in, but I’m invested in finding out!

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